Super-important US bill about online child predators

Susan tipped me off about this. (Click on her name to read her post and be horrified):

The Combating Child Exploitation Act, which was introduced by Senator Joseph Biden, creates and implements a National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. It designates a senior Department of Justice official to oversee the national strategy, including long-term goals, budget priorities, and program reviews to reduce the current backlog of forensic analysis for child exploitation cases.  This national strategy includes provisions to:

* establish an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program consisting of state and local law enforcement officials to address the online enticement of children, child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography;
* increase the investigative capabilities of law enforcement officers;
* provide training and technical assistance to ICAC task forces;
* increase the number of Internet crimes investigated and prosecuted;
* award grants to state and local ICAC task forces;
* and authorize funding for computer forensic capability, forensic labs, federal-state task forces, and the hiring of additional FBI agents to work solely on child exploitation cases.

Importantly, the bill expands federal authority to prosecute crimes involving child exploitation, buying or selling of children, and production or distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

I know I live in a little protected bubble about what's going on out there, what some sick people do or try to do to kids, and who's being hurt. I never realized all the awfulness that was out there, or that there's currently no united effort to go after it.

Oprah has the information on action steps (contact your senators, of course, and tell them to "Vote yes on Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act.") here.

34 thoughts on “Super-important US bill about online child predators”

  1. Thank you Moxie! And thanks in advance to everyone who takes a couple of minutes to contact your senators. Here’s hoping we can make some of the change needed to protect our kids.

  2. Can I say that this bill was the subject of Oprah yesterday . . . I don’t watch a lot of Oprah but I was riveted. Not in a good way, either. The disgusting things these people do to children. There are MANUALS how to stick objects into INFANTS (i.e., pacis in 18 mos. olds and younger, pencil tips into older girls’ vagina or anus). Not to mention the stuff to older children. They film them. 30% of this is done by these little ones’ PARENTS.I was SO ANGRY. SO. ANGRY. And, so sad. Watching that show yesterday. . . . I was sick. I hope everyone will write their senators and send it on. There are links to the necessary offices on Oprah’s website.

  3. Thank you Moxie for getting the word out. I am deeply appalled at this vile behavior!I have found myself questioning everyone I come in contact with wondering “are you a secret pedophile?”. I cannot stop thinking about this. God bless the little children.

  4. No – I meant that I hadn’t voted for him because that isn’t exactly an option if you don’t live there (but I *have* voted for Biden, because I live, er, here… Okay, in DE, since it isn’t exactly a secret that Biden is a DE senator).

  5. Moxie – maybe a topic for another conversation, but I can relate to what Jennifer is saying in her comments. How do we, as responsible parents in this day and age, balance being cautious and protective of our kids with letting them have some of the freedoms to explore and be kids?I am absolutely torn on this – I want my daughter to be free to ride her bike down the street without me watching her, however you hear the horror stories of children being “snatched away” if mom or dad aren’t there. I want my daughter to be able to feel independent and be able to explore without me “hovering”. What have other parents done to balance this?
    Thanks!

  6. Yes, yes, I second Susan’s comment – I feel so strongly that my kids should be able not only to experience some degree of “freedom” but that they will benefit from forming strong bonds to other adults (daycare providers, grandparents, neighbors), but I’m also very scared of the possibility of abuse. It’s an interesting balancing act. I know I need to read “Protecting the Gift”, but I’ve got precious little reading time and the bits I’ve read were not speaking to me. I’ll definitely give it another try, though, as time permits.Can we have a post about how people think/act on this issue?

  7. @Susan and Johanna, Gavin de Becker’s “Protecting the Gift” really is incredibly insightful here. He spends a lot of time talking about how to protect our kids by empowering them, and he turns a lot of myths and assumptions on their heads, including things like teaching your child “kiss XX goodbye” etc when they don’t want to because it’s polite. Johanna, give it another try, maybe skip ahead to the chapter, “Talk to Strangers” because I think that was the moment in reading this book when it really resonated for me…..

  8. I am with Jennifer, Susan & Johanna. I find myself looking at people who might say “hi” to my son, and wondering, “what are you really thinking?” and even questioning intentions of relatives. Perhaps I am paranoid but you can’t lock him in his room the rest of his life either.I find it tough because I feel guilty for questioning the intentions of people that I have no reason not to trust. But then, isn’t that so often how these things end up happening? It is such a bind.

  9. @Lisa M, thank you, I will definitely give it another try, and will skip to that chapter first. The example you give makes so. much. sense. Thanks.

  10. Along the lines of ‘go read Protecting the Gift’, I found that it was actually much easier to STOP thinking ‘what are you thinking?’ at every stranger after I read it. It made it possible for me to instead say, ‘what are my instincts in this situation? do I see any patterns leading toward opportunity to control my choices or my child’s choices? Is this person providing too much information or trying to establish a relationship without a reasonable basis? How is my child reacting to this person?’ – it is about my reading of the situation, not trying to forsee the future or divine their intent. I don’t HAVE to pray for pyschic powers, because I can just assess, using powers I have already. Much less stressful. (and that’s having been abused myself, so I have a good idea of the issues…)

  11. Thanks Susan & Moxie for bringing this to our attention. I too emailed both of my senators in NJ through Oprah’s website. I’m sorry I missed Oprah’s show.I also struggle with whether I am being overly paranoid. I recently had a huge disagreement with my mom regarding this issue. She watches my almost three year old daughter three days a week and was considering finding a roommate to share her home with. She was going to use an agency (so it would be a complete stranger) but was planning on doing a background check. I told her that both my husband and I were not comfortable leaving her there when/if she found a roommate-background check or not. She took it extremely personal even after I tried explaining that it had nothing to do with her. That something could very easily happen while she was in another room, in the shower or during nap time (yes, she still takes a 2 hour nap!). I’m sorry to say that it has drastically affected our relationship. But ultimately, my daughter comes first even if that means hurting myself or someone I love.

  12. I promise to also give Protecting the Gift another try. Like Johanna, I started the book and didn’t really “get” why it had received so much hype. I’ll try the chapter you recommend and hope that helps.I realize I am coming from a personal bias here as well – not to make anyone more paranoid, but to reinforce the need to trust your gut and not automatically trust someone because they are a relative – for me and my sister, the sexual abuse when we were kids was from our grandfather. Our church attending, married for 50 years and no one suspected a thing, Grandfather.
    It’s definitely challenging, coming from that background, to know who to trust and how to protect kids without smothering their ability to be free and explore.

  13. Thanks for posting this, I emailed my senators!@Carrie Anne, I’m glad you could stand your ground with your mom – what a tough situation to be in. I would have made the same choice, though.

  14. Thanks Lorraine. It helps to hear another mom understand and support my decision. Especially when my mom told me she told “everyone” how I feel and they all think there is something wrong with me and that I need professional help!

  15. @Susan, that’s a point the book makes pretty clearly. It’s ingrained in us to excuse and ignore signals/cues regarding relatives, just like we ignore the child’s resistance to being hugged or kissed by relatives. They’re RELATIVES, ya know? Only, yeah, relatives were my abusers, too.The horror that ‘these are often parents doing this’ is just not a surprise for me. They’ve got the most access and control. I’m way past cynical on that one.

  16. @Carrie Anne – I’m sorry your mother does not support your excellent parenting choices & instincts. Good parents like you don’t take chances with their kids.

  17. @Carrie Anne, I’ll back ya, too. My mom took in housemates a lot, for years, but never with small kids around.Background checks are nice, but I want references and an interview, and repeat on several before selecting, just the way I’d do for a nanny (we did that for many of the renters my mom had, in fact – the ‘house tour’ was really an interview, and we did check references). Actually, you could pass on the book to your mom, and work from there first. It might or might not work, but it would give her perspective on why you weren’t happy with that option. Granted, now that she’s established her position by telling everyone what it is, she may not be willing to change.

  18. Investigating Internet crimes against children:Seeking a new law enforcement paradigmDr. Frank Kardasz
    April 14, 2008, Revised: August 22, 2008
    For the first time in history, law enforcement officers in the 21st century possess proactive methods to
    identify and bring to justice those who sexually abuse minors. In years past, law enforcement had to wait
    for reports of child abuse before investigations could begin. But today, using innovative undercover
    techniques and the Internet, investigators can proactively seek out and apprehend offenders. Although this
    is one of the greatest advancements in the history of the enforcement of crimes against children,
    investigators still cannot take full advantage of the innovations. This work explores some of the
    stakeholders in the cyber-struggle and the troubling reasons that more resources are not devoted to the
    growing problem. The work explores legal, systemic, societal and psychological hurdles related to Internet
    crimes against children and suggests a new law enforcement paradigm that better recognizes such
    crimes.
    Read more >> http://www.kardasz.org/ICAC.html

  19. For me the most powerful part of “Protecting the Gift” was the bit about Worry vs Instinct. I’m a worrier by nature, and reading the book really helped me see the difference between worry (which he defines as imagining bad things that could happen) and listening to my instinct (which he defines as NOTICING small details that could be signs that something isn’t right). And furthermore, that all that worrying could be interfering with my ability to hear my instinct. It’s really made a tremendous difference to me, in an empowering way.I also love what he has to say about the damages of sexual abuse situations. That yes, of course, it’s terrible if it happens (and gives lots of ideas about how to keep it from happening) but that the worst damage is often done AFTER the act, by people who can’t bring themselves to do and be what the child needs them to. The shame part comes not from the abuser often, but from a well-meaning mom who wants to sweep the whole thing under the rug or who is so incredibly overwrought and horrified that the child feels guilty not only for allowing the abuse, but for telling an adult.
    I can’t do it justice, I just know it fundamentally changed the way I think about a lot of aspects of parenting, and in a good way.

  20. There’s a Berenstain Bears book for everything.Last night I read “Berenstain Bears and Strangers,” and I thought it did a pretty good job of explaining to children how you should behave around strangers, including that not all are bad, but what you should watch out for. My toddler’s probably too young for it, but he likes the bears. I remember learning lots from those books back in the dark ages of the 1970’s and 80’s. They’re still relevant.

  21. Thanks-hush & Hedra. I just ordered “Protecting the Gift” and “Your Body Belongs to You” by Cornelia Maude Spelman. I also ordered “Scream Free Parenting…” based on another Moxite’s suggestion. I guess you can say I’m in for a mommy makeover.

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